Horn Canyon Trail: To The Pines
Elevation Gain: Nearly 1800ft.
Distance: 4-5 miles round trip.
Time: 3-4 hours. (We stayed for about two hours at the campground)
Nearby Cities: Ojai
Take highway 33 north from 101 in Ventura. Stay on the 33 until it turns off from highway 150. Then bear right and take the 150 (Ojai Ave.) east through the city. Drive all the way through town, turn left on Reeves road (You should see a great pizza place called Boccalis. Follow Reeves about a mile to McAndrew Road and make another left, heading towards Thatcher School. Another mile up the road, go straight through the gate into the school grounds. Stay to the right and follow the signs to the gymkhana field. Park near the fire gate at the trailhead.
This is the trailhead. There isn’t a lot of parking but I’ve never had any problems. I actually had to take this shot at the end of the hike because I forgot to when we got there.
Looks like most of the hikes in Ojai; dense chaparral to either side of a hard foot-packed trail.
As you wind your way up the canyon the flora becomes small trees and large bushes that grow up the canyon’s gulch.
The first of many river crossings. Very nice when you bring dogs or need to refill water bottles with a filter. I wouldn’t recommend drinking any unfiltered water from anywhere in this area unless as a last resort in a survival situation.
You can actually get wet in this one if you want. There is a small pool to the left past the brush. It’s not very deep but would give the respite needed for the overheated hiker.
There’s plenty of sun on this trail so be sure to bring sunscreen/block if you’re susceptible.
There are a few areas where the trail meanders through the very welcome shade of Oaks Trees.
Rocks line the path big and small; watch the trail in front of your feet so you don’t get caught off guard.
Turning around after less than an hour we’re already getting a nice view of Horn Canyon and the east end of Ojai beyond.
This is the last river crossing. Even though there is a water trough at The Pines; if you’re staying overnight be sure to fill your water bottles or camelbaks here before you ascend as I’ve heard of it being dry occasionally.
If you explore a bit you might just find some cool stuff like this little pool someone made. I’d say it’s around 3-4 feet deep.
This is where you start the real accent up to The Pines or beyond. Take it easy as its steep and treacherous at times. Feel free to take breaks anytime you need to, be honest with yourself. I like to remember that it’s not a contest and I’m here to enjoy myself.
The view behind becomes more stunning by the step.
There’s my girlfriend trying to see our destination. It’s actually just above her head if you look closely. It’s the darker green patch about two heads above her.
This is the Yucca Plant. While not being poisonous it still packs a decent punch. If you fall into this or brush against it in the wrong way you will get stabbed by its very hard and sharp spines that are on the end of every single leaf. Avoid these like a rattlesnake.
When the path starts looking like this it’s always a good idea to stop frequently and check for ticks. Especially on your dogs.
This is the payoff. The reason why we pushed ourselves. The Pines.
As you enter the pine grove; to your right you can see the first campsite which has a view and a lot of sun.
Here is the main campground of The Pines. Someone was nice enough to bring a chainsaw up there and make a bunch of benches and a few tables for all to use. My guess is some fire crew or people from Thatcher School.
This is where you can filter some water or let your dogs get something to drink.
There are about 5-6 horse tie-ups to one side of the grove.
The Pines in panorama.
If you look closely you can see the ocean, and Lake Casitas!
I always like to include the hikers’ worst enemy. Poison Oak. This is what it looks like when it’s dry and mostly dead. Don’t let that fool you; it is just as virulent as when full of leaves, red or green.
I leave you with this beautiful pink moment picture.